Dotter of Her Father's Eyes Album – 2 Feb 2012
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"Dotter of Her Father's Eyes is doubly enjoyable for writer Mary Talbot's masterful interweaving of two father-daughter relationships and cartoonist Bryan Talbot's equally brilliant drawings, which transported me back-and-forth between gritty postwar Britain and the swinging Paris of the 20s and 30s. This is one of the best collaborative efforts I've seen in the comics medium." (Joe Sacco)
"A fascinating and original book, which will have wide appeal - not just to fathers and daughters!" (Jennifer Coates)
"[Am]bitious, entertaining and perceptive...blends a first-time script from Mary Talbot with stunning drawings and design from her husband, Bryan... It's a small triumph." (Tim Martin Daily Telegraph)
"Elegantly drawn and fluidly told, like Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir, Fun Home, this is a moving take on fathers, daughters and literature." (Tom Gatti The Times)
"Lucia Joyce's tragic descent from creativity into fragmentation is brilliantly brought home by the writing and art of the Talbot team." (Lucille Redmond Irish Times)
An extraordinary new graphic memoir about James Joyce, fathers and daughters.See all Product description
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The book alternates between the two women at similar points in their lives from childhood to adolescence to adulthood and shows parallels between them and their fathers. Mary's father was an eminent James Joyce scholar whose work "The Books at the Wake" remains the best book written analysing Joyce's incredibly difficult novel "Finnegan's Wake", and in turn an equally difficult man to get along with. Mary details her clashes with her dad who was mentally abusive to her while growing up, often belittling her achievements and dreams.
Lucia's father wasn't abusive - Joyce was too wrapped up in his own writings to be that way - and he was generally quite involved in raising his daughter, but when she became a young woman wanting to become a professional dancer and start an independent career, Joyce and his shrill wife forbade it to the point where she became so frustrated she threw a chair at her mother. Incredibly this incident led to her becoming institutionalised, a forced way of life that she would never escape until her death.
Mary Talbot's writing is superb and she brings to life her story with warmth and candour, perfectly matching her husband's artwork in tone and mood. The book is enthralling to read and, for Mary, ultimately a happy ending. For Lucia, it's hard to imagine a thwarted dance career and an overbearing mother could lead to a decades long imprisonment, but perhaps it really was all that - maybe there is more to her story than presented here.
I loved Bryan Talbot's work in this book. It's not nearly as polished or dramatic as his work in books like Grandville, and the book is coloured infrequently, mostly in sepia tones throughout, but it's still wonderful to see. His depiction of Lucia's descent into madness is as high a quality fans have come to expect from this artist, while the drawing of he and Mary's wedding day is very beautiful in its simplicity and expression of pure happiness.
"Dotter of her Father's Eyes" is a fascinating comic book of human relationships and the importance of an unshackled human spirit, but moreover it's a great read. Who knew that Bryan Talbot's wife was also a talented writer? Highly recommended.
"Dotter of her Father's Eyes" is a compelling and moving work, which also displays great warmth and humour. Bryan Talbot's illustrations are beautiful: shades of grey and black for Lucia's story and sepia enhanced with colour for Mary's. The husband and wife pairing works very well and some of my favourite parts of the memoir involved Mary's marginal comments on her husband's illustrations.
"Dotter of her Father's Eyes" came to my attention after it was shortlisted (and later won) the Costa biography award. It is a worthy winner.
It is partly her own childhood memories, dominated by her Joycean scholar father, and part biography of Joyce’s own daughter Lucia.
This is an informative and uneasy balance and if you skipped over the intricately chronological Lucia parts you might find it less of a dry read. Talbot’s own childhood is closer to our own, depending on your age dear reader, and we find more empathy with her trials and tribulations.
Bryan does a superb job on art duties as always clearly delineating the two stories using tone and texture. There are no straight panels here as every page has an organic warmth that presses frames together in an almost memory soup. For a non-fiction story there is a great deal of creativity and imagination in the expression of ideas and emotions.
The education of the Lucia story juxtaposed with the empathic memories of Mary is odd and a little understated in places but much more brave and interesting than either story alone.
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